What will you serve with that glorious, golden bird? Here is a round up of side dishes for your Thanksgiving table. A few easy, yet healthy recipes. I’ve included tips on quantity for your shopping and make-ahead tips for your schedule.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday to cook for. Maybe it’s the fall season, or that I have so much to be thankful for, but I love Thanksgiving. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is the best. Yet many cooks stress out about it, and that is understandable. A traditional Thanksgiving dinner is a feast to put on, and you want everyone to be happy and fulfilled. Here are a few of my favorites, along with tips for shopping and preparation
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Roasted Brussels sprouts are a prefect side dish for your turkey. If you think your family or guests won’t like them, try them roasted and you all might be surprised. Roasting makes them sweet and nutty.
- For shopping figure 6 ounces per person or 3 pounds for serving 8
- Prep the day before by peeling of any outer leaves that don’t look good, then slice in half top to bottom. Place in a zip bag and refrigerate until Thanksgiving Day. Get them out of the cold a few hours before roasting.
- An hour before the turkey is done, toss the Brussels sprouts with olive oil and seasonings according to the recipe and place on a parchment lined baking sheet
- While the turkey is resting, pop the Brussels sprouts into a 400 degree oven and roast for 18 minutes or until golden brown. Place in a bowl, cover and serve for dinner. Drizzle with good Balsamic vinegar or Balsamic syrup for extra pizazz.
Baby Green Beans with Shallots, Pecans and Pomegranate Seeds
Another classic vegetable side dish is green beans. No, not the ones smothered with processed canned soup and canned fried onion rings, but fresh cooked baby green beans with beautiful garnishes like pomegranate seeds, pecans and sautéed shallots.
- For shopping, figure 2-3 ounces per person.
- The day before, drop the trimmed beans in boiling salted water for 5 minutes then immediately chill in an ice water bath. When cold, drain on a clean kitchen towel and refrigerate until Thursday.
- Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before heating for dinner
- To serve for Thanksgiving dinner, heat in a 350 degree oven in a casserole dish covered with foil for approximately 30 minutes or until hot. Top with garnishes like chopped pecans, pomegranate arils (seeds) and sautéed shallots as you prefer.
Dressing or Stuffing?
While the terms have become interchangeable, for me if it’s inside the bird its stuffing. If it’s baked on the side, it’s dressing. Whatever you call it, here is a traditional herbed bread stuffing you can start two days ahead to save time. Your bird will roast faster un-stuffed, and it’s actually safer from a food safety standpoint.
My traditional Bread Stuffing with Herbs recipe will serve 6-8 people and scales up easily to feed more. Start 1-2 days ahead by cutting your bread into cubes, drying them overnight, then making the stuffing Wednesday. Bake Thursday. For a gluten-free, wheat-free option, try this cornbread and cranberry dressing recipe.
Mashed Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes
For potatoes, whether sweet or regular, here are two recipes. Whipped sweet potatoes with rosemary and classic mashed potatoes are both delicious. The whipped sweet potatoes are simple and healthy – no marshmallows required. All you need is a hand mixer to whip them after cooking. Figure 6-8 ounces per person raw weight when shopping.
Mashed potatoes are made creamy with sour cream or Greek yogurt (which gives them a nice tang). To make them over-the-top, use a little white truffle butter. It’s worth the splurge.
For fluffy mashed potatoes I prefer to use Yukon Gold potatoes and a tool called a ricer. I figure 8 ounces per person raw weight when shopping. If you are doing a large quantity for a crowd, you can make them a few hours ahead and keep them warm in a slow cooker over low heat covered with plastic film then the lid for a few hours. A trick I’ve used many times for catered parties.
And one more side you can’t do without – an easy, no-cook cranberry relish anyone can make. Save the drained juice for adding to sparkling water or sparkling wine for a festive touch.
To Finish The Feast – Dessert
No Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without something pumpkin. Here are a few ideas: Creamy Spiced Pumpkin Mousse (reduced sugar and dairy-free version) or Spiced Pumpkin Mousse (original version). Here is also a more traditional option, a pumpkin tart in an almond-coconut flour (gluten-free) crust. Just a small piece will satisfy or a few bites will satisfy.
Take Time to be Thankful
In spite of the tumultuous year we’ve all had, we still have much to be thankful for. I hope that this Thanksgiving, as you gather with friends and family, you will stop to be thankful and reflect on another year that has passed so quickly.
I am thankful for my wonderful husband, my family and friends, and my home church, Saddleback Community. I’m thankful for all of God’s blessings and challenges as well. I’m thankful for you, who read my posts and try my recipes. You are like extended family. I’m thankful for the time you take in your busy day to comment and let me know that a recipe made a difference for you, or to ask a question. It always makes my day! I love to interact with you and help in any way with your quest to cook and eat more healthfully.
Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Time to enjoy being in the kitchen to create a feast for your family and friends. No matter how it comes out it will be terrific, because it’s really about being together to celebrate, to live, to love and to laugh.
Helpful Links and a Few More Notes
For the perfect turkey, I use this recipe from the LA Times. I used to wet brine my birds. Now, I always dry brine. It’s so easy and the results are fantastic.
I always buy an organic fresh turkey. Yes, they are more expensive, but they taste fantastic. Figure 1 1/2 pounds per person if you want leftovers. I usually order a Marys Turkey or a Diestel. Both are great. I pick mine up Monday morning and start the dry brining process.
For an amazing gravy that is rich, silky and smooth, try this recipe. I’ve been using it the past few years for rave reviews. For a gluten-free thickener, try coconut flour instead of wheat flour.
For the best gravy and turkey soup afterwards, make a batch of homemade turkey broth ahead of time. You can even freeze it.